Campus and city police are investigating reports of a public meetup hosted by Return of Kings, a self-proclaimed men’s rights group, in Nickel’s Arcade on Saturday. The group’s founder, Roosh Valizadeh, announced an “International Tribal Meetup” to unite “other like-minded men” around the world on his website.
Ann Arbor was added to the finalized list of meeting points on Jan. 22. The meetup is planned for Feb. 6th, according to the group’s website.
ROK is infamous for advocating policies that would legalize rape in some circumstances and advance “neo-masculine” thought. Valizadeh’s “About” page on his website argues for the maintenance of traditional sex roles, and says that “a woman’s value significantly depends on her fertility and beauty.”
Posts in multiple campus facebook groups, such as the Ladies of UofM Facebook group, on Monday and Tuesday warned females on campus of the group’s activities.
Diane Brown, spokeswoman for the Department of Public Safety and Security, confirmed Tuesday night that after receiving tips, University police are working in conjunction with the Ann Arbor Police Department, as Nickel’s Arcade is within city police’s jurisdiction, to look into the meetup.
Brown said University police plan to meet with campus leaders in the days to come about the planned event.
“We don’t know what we’ve got right now,” Brown said. “We’ve gotten several notifications from concerned community members who are seeing several versions of this meeting around the world, including one that could possibly be in Ann Arbor.”
The online discussions motivated students to create Facebook events for a protest against ROK’s meeting on Tuesday. One of the organizers, an LSA sophomore who asked to go by her first name Susanna, said she was initially shocked by news of ROK’s presence in Ann Arbor.
“I was planning on dressing up and going out and having a fun time but I started thinking, ‘maybe I should just stay inside,’” she said. “Then I realized, why should I let them scare me? So I decided that instead of letting them terrorize our campus, we would organize ourselves and speak as one voice for women’s rights.”
Many posts on the Facebook page urged women to be on guard, as ROK has not detailed what exactly the group’s plan of action will be after convening at Nickel’s Arcade. Valizadeh’s website calls for men to move to “final venues” after the initial meetup; one answer on a list of frequently asked questions claims that men will move to bars.
Susanna emphasized that she is not a member of any feminist groups on campus, but wanted to take action.
“I’m not a ‘learned-feminist,’ ” she said. “ I don’t know terminology or events. But I do know when something is wrong.”